The borough of Media is the county seat of Delaware County, Pennsylvania and is located 12 miles (19 km) west of Philadelphia. Media was incorporated in 1850 at the same time that it was named the county seat. The population was 5,533 at the 2000 census. Its school district is the Rose Tree Media School District with Penncrest High School and Springton Lake Middle School. In June 2006, it became the first fair trade town in America.
The history of the town goes back to William Penn, but the area remained predominantly rural until the twentieth century, and is suburban today. The Delaware County Institute of Science was founded in Media in 1833, while the Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, a two-year technical college, Williamson Free School of Mechanical Trades a three-year technical college, and Delaware County Community College, a two-year liberal arts college, are located nearby. Media promotes itself as “Everybody’s Hometown”.
Land in area was sold and settled soon after William Penn was named proprietor of the colony of Pennsylvania in 1681 by King Charles II of England. Peter and Wiliam Taylor bought the land where Media is now located, directly from Penn. Providence Township was organized in 1684, and divided into Upper Providence and Nether Providence Townships by 1690 even though they only had 40 taxable properties at the time. The current borough, formed in 1850, sits between the two townships.
In 1683 the Court of Chester County approved the construction of “Providence Great Road” (now Pennsylvania Route 252). The road, which runs north from Chester to within a few blocks from today’s downtown, is shown on a 1687 map along with the names of local landowners. It forms the eastern border of the borough.
Thomas Minshall, a Quaker, was an early Media resident, settling just outside the small village then known as Providence, along the Providence Great Road. The village then included a tailor shop, blacksmith shop, wheelwright shop, barn and other buildings.
Minshall bought 625 acres (2.53 km2) from William Penn and arrived in 1682. The Providence Friends Meeting was established at his house in February, 1688, and a meetinghouse was later built on land he donated for the purpose. The original meetinghouse was built out of logs in 1699 or 1700 and the current building dates to 1814. Minshall’s house still stands and was given to the citizens of the borough in 1975. During the American Revolution the Marquis de La Fayette bought a saddle at the Minshall house.
The area remained rural through 1850. On March 11, 1850 the State of Pennsylvania by Special Act of Assembly incorporated the Borough of Media, and made the sale of malt and spirituous liquors unlawful within its borders. At the same time the county seat of Delaware County was moved to Media from Chester. The borough was formed from four farms purchased by the county, totalling only 480 acres (1.9 km2). The borders of the borough have not changed since that time.
Streets were plotted in a rectangular grid around the location of the new courthouse, lots were sold at public auctions, and the construction of houses began. Sources agree that Minshall Painter, a descendant of Thomas Minshall, suggested the name “Media”, but do not agree on the reason. The name may come from the city’s central location in Delaware County, or from the biblical area of Medea.
The John J. Tyler Arboretum occupies part of Thomas Minshall’s original 625 acres (2.53 km2). This farm was used by the underground railroad. The land was donated to a public trust in 1944 by an eighth generation descendant. The arboretum was started as a private collection by brothers Jacob and Minshall Painter. In 1825 they began systematically planting over 1,000 varieties of trees and shrubs. Over 20 of their original trees survive including a giant sequoia.
Thomas Minshall house
Minshall Painter was also a leader of the Delaware County Institute of Science, which was formed on September 21, 1833 with just four other members: George Miller, John Miller, George Smith, M.D., and John Cassin. The Institute was incorporated in 1836. About 1850, Painter gave the Institute the land where its building currently stands at 11 Veteran’s Square, and the building was constructed in 1867.
In the second half of the 19th Century, Media was a summer resort for well-to-do Philadelphians. The borough’s large vacation hotels included the Idlewild Hotel (1871) on Lincoln Street at Gayley Terrace, Chestnut Grove House or “The Colonial” (1860) on Orange Street, and Brooke Hall on Lemon Street and Washington Ave. (now Baltimore Ave.). The Chestnut Grove was used for a year by nearby Swarthmore College due to a fire on their campus.
The West Chester and Philadelphia Railroad was built through Media on October 19, 1854. Electrified service was opened on December 2, 1928. Up to 50 trains passed through each day. The railroad became part of the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad and eventually the Penn Central. SEPTA took over operations in 1983. Woodrow Wilson spoke at the Media Station in 1912 during his first election campaign. Trolley transportation lines spread to and through Media in the 1890s and early 1900s.
The Media Theatre for the Performing Arts
The Media Theatre opened as a vaudeville house in 1927. The first talkie film, “The Jazz Singer”, was shown there. It remained a popular cinema through the 1970s. In 1994, the theater was refurbished by Walter Strine, Sr. and reopened as a professional live music theater. Shows produced there include “The Full Monty”, “Carousel”, and “Miss Saigon”. Tony Award winners Judy Kaye and David Miller have performed there.
In June 2006, Media became the first US town to follow over three-hundred towns in Europe in attaining fair trade certification. To meet the criteria for certification, Media passed a council resolution in support of fair trade, serve fair-trade coffee and tea in local government meetings and offices, ensure that a range of fair-trade products were available in local restaurants and businesses, raise popular support and provide media coverage for the fair-trade campaign, and convene a fair-trade steering committee to ensure continued commitment.
The Borough of Media, PA is run by a Mayor along with the elected Borough Council. The main responsibility of theirs is to ensure the safety and livelihood of the residents of Media, PA. The Mayor of Media, Bob McMahon, was first elected in 1992; Brian C. Hall, Esq. serves as President and Monica Simpson is Media’s Vice-President.
Current Borough Council members are as follows: Dr. Eric Stein, Monika Rehoric, Dawn Roe, Paul Robinson, and Kent Davidson.
Since the borough of Media is only 0.8 sq mi (2.1 km2) and the “Media ZIP code” 19063 covers a much larger area, the geographic term “Media” is often used in a sense that includes not only the borough of Media, but other contiguous areas that are part of other municipalities but that share the ZIP code. These include the entire Upper Providence Township, and in Nether Providence Township, the neighborhoods of South Media, Bowling Green, Pine Ridge, most of Middletown Township including the entire Elwyn, Bortondale, Riddlewood, Lima, Glen Riddle, and Lenni neighborhoods. Even some parts of Marple Township have the zip code 19063.
Geography and climate
Media is located at 39°55′8″N 75°23′17″W (39.918761, -75.388127). According to the United States Census Bureau, the borough has a total area of 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2), of which 0.8 square miles (2.1 km2) is land and 1.33% is water.
Media is connected to Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, by the 101 trolley and is the only suburban town in the United States to have a trolley line end on its main street. The trolley terminates just after the Delaware County Courthouse, at a station known as Orange Street. Media also has a stop on the Media/Elwyn Regional Rail Line at the corner of Orange Street and Station Road.
U.S. 1 formerly ran through the borough until the “Media bypass” was completed in 1960. The bypass has an unusual “volleyball” or three-level diamond interchange with Interstate 476. The road, formerly known as Route 1, is also known by its even older name, Baltimore Pike.
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL), the 11th busiest airport in the world in 2007, is 10.2 miles (16.4 km) driving distance (about 15 minutes) from downtown Media, following Baltimore Pike east, then Interstate 476 south and Interstate 95 northeast.